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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

What Not to Do…at the Grandparents’

Kids love to experiment and children’s stories are rife with prime examples, such as Goldilocks trying the three bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds.  No doubt this was a fairy tale preparing children for a visit to the grandparents’ home.

Maybe you’re blessed with grandparents nearby, or nowadays, when we delay having families till later in life, having living grandparents at all.  But for those of us who are far away and a visit takes place once every couple of years, or once every few months, or once in a lifetime (!), you need every visit to “count”.  Unfortunately, if the kids are jet-lagged, overexcited, or hyped-up by the old folks slipping them non-stop sugar… you’re in trouble.

Our kids seem drawn to exactly the chairs they should avoid.  Dyedushka’s overstuffed La-Z-Boy garners lots of attention, as though the first child there should just go ahead and plunk right down, I mean, let Grandpa sit on the ground.  This child tries all of the levers:  legs up, out, back flat; up, out, back flat; up, out, back flat… before spying my evil eye bearing down on them from across the room… and they flip right back down in 2 seconds’ flat.

Another insists on collecting all of the throw pillows on the couch:  behind the head, cradled like a baby, behind the back….  I’m trying to hold it together on several fronts, as yet a third heads for the rocking chair.

“Keep it on the carpet,” I warn as the chair runners move toward the hardwood floor.

“STOP rocking,” I say under my breath.

They look at me like I’m nuts.

“STOP,” I slip in, hoping that Babushka and Dyedushka don’t hear me.  I can’t speak in Russian to move under the radar, since they ARE Russian.

“Don’t get too near the wall,” Dyedusha chimes in.

Great, so he saw it, too.

There are all sorts of hidden dangers for kids visiting their grandparents, and it’s not just confined to younger children and electrical outlets.  Older kids can push the buttons on the remote control, big-screen TV already a little too loud for comfort.  Blaring Russian news with very pasty-white presenters becomes even louder.

“Kids, can you turn it down?” I request when Dyedushka heads to the kitchen.

“They all look so tired,” Benedetto comments on the TV anchors’ appearances.

“Maybe they’ve never heard of under-eye concealer,” I suggest, “or maybe they have too many Russian kids of their own,” I direct towards mine, as another starts slinking down in yet another chair where they feel they should settle in for a long autumn’s nap…..

One child insists on saying “Da” to every food tentatively offered, as in “We’ve just had ten courses, would anyone like an eleventh?”

Pasha has no “off” switch, and I see him, and everyone else being served bowls of  “Tvorogom” (sort of a farmer’s cheese/ cottage cheese) with “Smetana” (sour cream) and sugar.  This is after we’re already stuffed to the gills.  When Mashenka can’t finish hers and she tries to pass it to Pasha, and he tries to refuse, I give him the all-knowing, evil-mother look, like, “You’ll enjoy it, and you’ll enjoy it now.”

The two grandparents take the kids on a tour of the house, pointing out photos of Benedetto and I when we were much younger.

“Mama, that’s not you!” they gasp.

“Yes, believe it or not, we had a ‘life’ before you…” I remind, thinking again of the overtired Russian TV news commentators.  I go to the bathroom and check out my appearance, marveling at their luxury towels, art, and vanity, and our own, that now look a bit worse for wear.  I’m thinking over the wisdom of having any children at all when I emerge and hear both grandparents asking a question.

“Who wants some borsch?” Babushka calls out as the kids come alive.  I’ve just glimpsed them all in the garden having ice cream ten minutes before.

“Who wants to check the house for odd coins that may have fallen here or there?” Dyedushka asks, as I get a stricken look on my face.

Hopefully, he’s joking.  Hopefully, the soup will distract everyone’s attention from any treasure-hunting.  Did he see any hands slipping under the couch cushions, I wonder?  I’m mortified, while he’s chuckling.

I wish I could say I’m making this up….

Do you have any challenges when heading over the valley and through the woods to grandparents’ houses?




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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Our Russian daughter came home to an adult brother and sister. We don’t have any Grandparent challenges stories but we do have a brother/sister story. Our daughter felt she always had to do some re-arranging while at their homes. Even though she was rarely out of our sight, somehow she managed to sneak off and move at least one or two items around in one of her siblings homes. We would get a phone call after we got home, “She did it again! ” and asking us to ask her where she put something of theirs. She probably did it everywhere but people didn’t realize it was her. She never took anything, just re-arranged and moved things from room to room.

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